Many symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD) are not immediately associated with your jaw. Some of these signs and symptoms are fairly common. TMJ is frequently associated with headaches, neck pain, and ear symptoms such as tinnitus or vertigo. Because these symptoms are so common, it can be difficult to distinguish TMJ from other conditions.
Some TMJ symptoms are uncommon. They are, however, still linked to the condition and can be alleviated with TMJ treatment. Eye pain is one of these less common symptoms. Dentist Somerville before visiting an optical center for eye pain to learn why it could be TMJ instead.
A few people with TMJ have chronic eye pain. Although it may appear mysterious, there are a few reasons why TMJ causes eye pain as suggested by TMD Specialist Somerville.
The pain is in the chewing muscles
People frequently believe that their eyes are hurting when, in fact, their jaw muscles are. The confusion stems from the proximity of your jaw muscles to your eyes. The temporalis muscles, which are some of the most important jaw muscles, are located on either side of your head just behind your eyes. The pain is not in your eyes, and feeling around the source of the pain will reveal that it is not in your eyes, but close to them. TMJ and eye pain are frequently associated.
Pressure in Nerve
Other times, the jaw muscles aren’t the ones who are in pain; they’re the ones who are producing it. Your eye region has two sets of nerves that deliver pain signals. Some enter the brain directly, while others begin at the base of the brain and weave their way around and through numerous tissues to reach the skin surrounding your eyes.
Jaw muscles that are strained can exert pressure on these nerves. This can result in optical migraines, as well as eye pain.
Pain can also be a combination of the above events.
When your brain’s cables get crossed, you get referred pain. The pain originates in one location, but your brain believes it originates in another. This may seem unusual, but it happens all the time, especially when the source is somewhere your body isn’t expecting pain. The brain then interprets the pain as originating from a location it considers to be a cause of pain.
This might affect your jaw muscles as well as your eyes. Jaw muscle pain can be misinterpreted as coming from the eyes. Even if you attempt to imagine where the pain is coming from, it still feels like it’s coming from your eyes. When you touch the source of your pain, it feels like it’s your eyes. But it’s not your eyes; it’s your brain that can’t tell the difference.
Does it cause Eye Pain?
With so many possibilities, how can you tell if TMJ is causing your eye pain? It’s not easy, but it’s doable.
First, discuss your eye pain with your family doctor or an eye doctor. It’s a good idea to rule out any potential causes of eye pain, such as acute glaucoma or conjunctivitis.
Second, think about when your eye pain usually flares up. Is it associated with periods of intense jaw activity? This could be a voluntary activity, such as talking and chewing, or it could be an involuntary activity, such as clenching and grinding your teeth (bruxism). Keep in mind that you may be grinding your teeth while sleeping.
Finally, look for other TMJ symptoms such as jaw popping and clicking, jaw pain, tooth wear, and ear symptoms.
If you suspect TMJ is causing your eye pain, make an appointment with one of our neuromuscular dentists for testing and diagnosis.